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The Heat is On in the J/109s in IRC Class One of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta

13th July 2019
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Class One IRC Leader, J/109 Outrajeous (Richard Colwell and John Murphy) Class One IRC Leader, J/109 Outrajeous (Richard Colwell and John Murphy) Photo: Afloat

“Champagne sailing” is a choice expression which is in danger of being over-used every time a bit of sunshine happens upon a decent sailing breeze during race time in Ireland writes W M Nixon. But we’ve no doubt it was being bandied about at some stage on most of the 498 boats taking part in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2019’s third day’s racing on this very special Saturday.

So at the very least, we’ll allow that there was a Bollinger Breeze on the Bay, and if you were on one of the many boats doing well in the two dozen-plus classes, “champagne sailing” is definitely a permitted phrase.

Outrajeous 3905Class One head downwind past Dalkey in today's Coastal Race

The sun was around most of the time, obscured occasionally only by the most harmless of clouds, and while the very usable breeze was west of north in the inner bay, it definitely had a growing touch of nor’east to it as you got seaward, and the salty aroma of the real sea with it

Muglins spinnakers 4128Class One Rounds the Muglins Rock

This was very much to the benefit of the grand fromages in Classes 0 and 1, and the IRC Coastal Classes as well, for at some stage all were favoured with a cracking beat out to the North Burford Buoy. This workaday navigation marker played such a useful role in the day’s sailing that if it hadn’t existed, then someone would have had to invent it as the programme swung into action. And to round out the sport, the directness of the breezes in through the harbour mouth permitted in-harbour finishes which brought that classic Beechey painting of the Royal St George Regatta of 1874 gloriously back to life, so all was well with the world.

Spinnakers Bray Head 3552The Coastal Course Classes reach 'Bray Outfall' mark

Effectively, tomorrow’s final races will all be done and dusted around lunchtime or very soon after to allow the marathon prizegiving ceremony the time and space it needs, so this evening we’re getting very close to seeing the final lineup for the silverware, and in a couple of classes it’s already all over bar the shouting.

 Chimaera 3871Andrew Craig's J109 Chimaera got away great in the running start (it must be those new spinnaker sheets)

The oven is turned way up among the profusion of J/109s in Class 1. Overnight leader Outrajeous (Richard Colwell & Johnny Murphy, Howth YC) logged a third today, but this has her only one point – at 8 - ahead of John Maybury’s Joker II (RIYC) which managed a first to total 9, while the Goodbody family in White Mischief are on 10 and Pat Kelly’s Storm is in fourth on 11.

Animal 36.7 3921Debbie Aitken’s First 36.7 Animal

Storm continues to have a clear lead in the RC 35 sub-division, with Brian and John Hall’s Something Else still second while Debbie Aitken’s First 36.7 Animal is also something else, she manages to hold third after a 5th today despite having J/09s every which way around her.

Jump The Gun 3959

Published in Volvo Regatta

 

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WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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Dun Laoghaire Regatta –  From the Baily lighthouse to Dalkey island, the bay accommodates eight separate courses for 25 different classes racing every two years for the Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

In assembling its record-breaking armada, Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta (VDLR) became, at its second staging, not only the country's biggest sailing event, with 3,500 sailors competing, but also one of its largest participant sporting events.

One of the reasons for this, ironically, is that competitors across Europe have become jaded by well-worn venue claims attempting to replicate Cowes and Cork Week.

'Never mind the quality, feel the width' has been a criticism of modern-day regattas where organisers mistakenly focus on being the biggest to be the best.

Dun Laoghaire, with its local fleet of 300 boats, never set out to be the biggest. Its priority focussed instead on quality racing even after it got off to a spectacularly wrong start when the event was becalmed for four days at its first attempt.

The idea to rekindle a combined Dublin bay event resurfaced after an absence of almost 40 years, mostly because of the persistence of a passionate race officer Brian Craig who believed that Dun Laoghaire could become the Cowes of the Irish Sea if the town and the local clubs worked together.

Although fickle winds conspired against him in 2005, the support of all four Dun Laoghaire waterfront yacht clubs since then (made up of Dun Laoghaire Motor YC, National YC, Royal Irish YC and Royal St GYC), in association with the two racing clubs of Dublin Bay SC and Royal Alfred YC, gave him the momentum to carry on.

There is no doubt that sailors have also responded with their support from all four coasts. Entries closed last Friday with 520 boats in 25 classes, roughly doubling the size of any previous regatta held on the Bay.

Running for four days, the regatta is (after the large mini-marathons) the single most significant participant sports event in the country, requiring the services of 280 volunteers on and off the water, as well as top international race officers and an international jury, to resolve racing disputes representing five countries.

Craig went to some lengths to achieve his aims including the appointment of a Cork man, Alan Crosbie, to run the racing team; a decision that has raised more than an eyebrow along the waterfront.

A flotilla of 25 boats has raced from the Royal Dee near Liverpool to Dublin for the Lyver Trophy to coincide with the event. The race also doubles as a RORC qualifying race for the Fastnet.

Sailors from the Ribble, Mersey, the Menai Straits, Anglesey, Cardigan Bay and the Isle of Man have to travel three times the distance to the Solent as they do to Dublin Bay. This, claims Craig, is one of the major selling points of the Irish event and explains the range of entries from marinas as far away as Yorkshire's Whitby YC and the Isle of Wight.

Until now, no other regatta in the Irish Sea area could claim to have such a reach. Dublin Bay weeks such as this petered out in the 1960s, and it has taken almost four decades for the waterfront clubs to come together to produce a spectacle on and off the water to rival Cowes.

"The fact that we are getting such numbers means it is inevitable that it is compared with Cowes," said Craig. However, there the comparison ends.

"We're doing our own thing here. Dun Laoghaire is unique, and we are making an extraordinary effort to welcome visitors from abroad," he added.

The busiest shipping lane in the country – across the bay to Dublin port – is to close temporarily to facilitate the regatta and the placing of eight separate courses each day.

A fleet total of this size represents something of an unknown quantity on the bay as it is more than double the size of any other regatta ever held there.

The decision to alter the path of ships into the port was taken in 2005 when a Dublin Port control radar image showed an estimated fleet of over 400 yachts sailing across the closed southern shipping channel.

Ships coming into the bay, including the high-speed service to the port, will use the northern lane instead.

With 3,500 people afloat at any one time, a mandatory safety tally system for all skippers to sign in and out will also operate.

The main attraction is undoubtedly the appearance of four Super Zero class yachts, with Dun Laoghaire's Colm Barrington's TP52 'Flash Glove' expected to head the 'big boat' fleet. At the other end of the technology scale, the traditional clinker-built Water Wags will compete just as they did at a similar regatta over 100 years ago.

The arrival of three TP 52s and a Rogers 46 to Dun Laoghaire regatta is a feather in the cap of organisers because it brings Grand Prix racing to Dublin bay and the prospect of future prominent boat fixtures on the East Coast.

With 38 entries, the new Laser SB3s are set to make a significant impact although the White Sail Class five almost rivals them numerically. The Fireball is the biggest dinghy class, with 27 entries, while there are 25 entries for the Ecover Half Ton Classics Cup which began on Monday.

Class 0 is expected to be the most hotly contested, if the recent Saab IRC Nationals, Scottish Series and Sovereign's Cup are any indication. Three Cork boats ­- Jump Juice (Conor and Denise Phelan), Antix Dubh (Anthony O'Leary) and Blondie (Eamonn Rohan) - are expected to lead the fleet.

(First published in 2009)

Who: All four Dun Laoghaire Waterfront Yacht clubs

What: Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta

Why: A combined regatta to make Dun Laoghaire the Cowes of the Irish Sea.

Where: Ashore at Dun Laoghaire and afloat at eight separate race courses on Dublin Bay. Excellent views from both Dun Laoghaire piers, Sandycove and Seapoint.

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